The Addiction to Happily Ever After

The layperson’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result each time. Those of us who refuse to accept the simple (though sometimes horrible) truth, refuse to accept powerlessness, and refuse to accept life on life’s terms remain locked in patterns of self destruction. We don’t simply expect a different outcome – we demand it.

Even as we remain perpetually outraged by the injustices of our pasts, we continue to engage people who are unjust. We go back to our families of origin with the false hope that they will break all past patterns and be unconditionally loving and accepting of us. We come away from each interaction disappointed. (False hope leads to unrealistic expectations.)

We gravitate toward friends and lovers who are very much like those who have hurt us most. We’re not aware; we are simply gravitating toward the types of folks we’re most comfortable relating to. We seek acceptance and love so eagerly that we sacrifice ourselves. In lieu of having an identity, we become who others want us to be.

The greatest depth of codependency is the choice to pursue conditional love and acceptance. What we receive cannot sustain us. We move mountains and they throw us crumbs. The hope of something greater is what keeps us going but promises are lies. We tell ourselves that we love crumbs and that we’re selfish to want more.

Within every broken heart is the false hope that if we can make things turn out well this time then it will take away all of our past pain. Our lives become a twisted version of a Rascal Flatt’s song in which we say “God blessed the broken road that brought me straight to you.”

It’s the closing sappy scene from the movie Jerry Maguire. Renee Zellweger says, “You had me from hello” (cheesy but almost forgivable). Tom Cruise then goes over the moon by saying, “You complete me.” This is the part where I scream at my television, “No! No she doesn’t! The emptiness within you is not something romantic love can fill!”

The emptiness within our hearts is not something a lover can fill. It’s so much deeper than that. It goes to the core of our being as we seek to matter, seek to be enough, seek to have faith and security in who we are. These are the lessons we ought to have learned from our families. The people we have sex with will not be the people who teach us our worth. This pursuit is why people have mommy and daddy issues. When we seek a different ending to the same story, we unwittingly set ourselves up for further suffering.

We want our pain to lead directly to something beautiful. This can never be. When we bury past pain we not only have additional baggage to carry, we limit ourselves holistically. Pain is shit. We can try to make something beautiful out of shit but that doesn’t change it’s nature.

When we live with the pain of abusive or otherwise toxic relationships, we believe ourselves obligated (illusion) in pursuit of happily ever after (illusion). It’s like buying stock in a company. We buy it expecting it will become something more valuable, but instead it loses value. We hold on, expecting it will eventually get better. Then it gets worse. We stop looking at it. We tell ourselves, “I can’t get out now, I’d be taking too big of a loss.” Except the loss has already been taken. We just haven’t cashed out.

(It’s time to cash out).

The surest investments are in self, a Higher Power, and in loving good people. Everything else is an attempt to rewrite history. Write your own story from today forward.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in assisting people in recovery (whether from drugs, alcohol, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.